Dr. Stevan Vuckovic shortly after receiving the state EMS medical director of the year award at the Indiana Emergency Response Conference in Indianapolis.
Hear the Region News Team's interview with Stevan Vuckovic here at our website at News Audio on Demand
CROWN POINT | Emergency medical service is the lifeblood of Stevan Vuckovic, D.O.
Besides serving for 18 years as an Emergency Department physician at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, Vuckovic has excelled for 15 years as medical director of the hospital’s Emergency Medical Services Training Academy – so much that he recently was honored as the state’s EMS medical director of the year. He received the award during an annual Indiana Fire Chiefs Association-Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Emergency Response Conference in Indianapolis.
Dr. Stevan Vuckovic, right, is shown with his Indiana EMS medical director of the year award and Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point EMS director Rob Dowling, outside their office.
“My name may be on the award, but it is not about me. It is about all the people behind the scenes who made it possible. It is a testament to how robust our EMS program is and about our relationship with the pre-hospital providers who put it on the line every day to make sure our communities are taken care of.”
The academy trains emergency responders from 26 area communities. Since 2012, it has been under the direction of Rob Dowling, hospital director of emergency medical services; who Vuckovic credits with doing “an unbelievable job and taking the department to a new level.”
He also credits Daniel Netluch, M.D., Dowling’s supervisor and the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, for providing the tools and leadership for the academy to advance.
“He has given us unbelievable leeway to develop pre-hospital protocols – he knows what it takes and realizes it’s also about the people who answer the emergency calls every day.”
Vuckovic, 50, of St. John, who is married and has four children, said he was bitten by the desire to help people in distress while in high school, when he served as a lifeguard and as a volunteer in a hospital emergency department in Illinois.
“The epiphany came when I was in the high school band. We were rehearsing for a musical and the band director decided to fire off a blank as a sound effect. He didn’t know the blank contained paper wadding and so wounded his hand trying to shield the shot. While everyone else was running away, I ran toward him and applied first-aid (learned as a lifeguard), until the paramedics came.”
Vuckovic finds the most satisfaction in seeing people, especially younger ones, survive deadly situations.
“Things like pulling drowning kids out of a lake, or out of a car wrapped around a tree – and then later watching them walk out of the hospital. Those are most rewarding, as has been my entire career. I want to take care of sick people and also have an extraordinary dedication to the responders in the field, because I used to be one.”
Vuckovic said he emulates the leadership style of his mentor, Bernie Heilicser, D.O., emergency medical services director at Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, Ill., who Vuckovic met while a paramedic.
“He taught me to be approachable, and the importance of fostering a good working relationship with the hospital staff and the emergency personnel. He is a terrific human being and I strive to follow his example.”
Dowling said no one deserves the honor more than Vuckovic.
“It’s my privilege to share an office with someone of his caliber. I appreciate the amount of patience and insight he provides to our program.”
Added Netluch, "I can't think of anyone more deserving of this prestigious award. Dr. Vuckovic got his start in medicine as a paramedic and has always had great passion for EMS. He is always trying to advance our nationally accredited EMS Academy and keep us on the forefront of quality and technology. I am extremely proud and thankful that Dr. Vuckovic is part of our emergency medicine program. Our community is a safer place."
About the award
The Indiana Emergency Response Conference awards program was created in conjunction with the former Indiana Emergency Medical Services Conference Awards Program and the Indiana Fire Chiefs Association Awards Program. The IERC program was established to recognize outstanding achievements and to honor those in Indiana’s public safety organizations whose accomplishments rise above the day-to-day in excellence, training, education and safety. – Source: Indiana Emergency Response Conference website
[News Release/Bill Bero, Franciscan Alliance]